Mother Teresa is frequently credited with the quote, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” A version of that saying shows up in this week’s epistle reading. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13) The underlying idea is that life gets hard sometimes – almost to the point of being unbearable. But God has already given us what we need to endure. Even if we don’t understand our suffering, God remains faithful.
This can be hard to believe when we’re in the midst of suffering. What do we do when we can’t see a way out? How do we respond when we feel that we can no longer endure?
I like to think that God shows up to us in the way that the gardener showed up for the fig tree in Luke 13. When we are at the very end of our endurance, when it appears that we no longer serve any purpose, God intervenes and gives us another chance. It may not necessarily be pleasant – as with the fig tree, it might mean being surrounded by manure! But eventually, God knows that we have fruit to bear, and God will say by our side until we have figured out how to do that (or how to do it again).
The season of Lent is a good time to be focused on our purpose in the world, on the fruit that our faith community bears, and on how we can encourage others to also bear fruit. What spiritual disciplines are you or your community engaging this year? What ministries or initiatives are bearing fruit? What seems to be so hopeless that you can’t do anything with it except pour on a bunch of manure and hope for the best?
Which reading or readings are you focusing on this week? Are you following a Lenten theme? If so, how do the RCL readings tie in? Please share your ideas and questions below, for preaching or prayers or children’s time, or anything else worship-related! Blessings to you in your preaching and worship this week.
Katya Ouchakof is in between calls at the moment. She is spending her time hanging out with her niece and nephew, and getting ready for the canoeing season. She should be spending more time organizing her house, but that’s nowhere near as fun as the other choices!
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